Hyginus, Caius Julius

, was an ancient Latin writer, who flourished in the time of Augustus. Suetonius, in. his book “De illustribus Grammaticis,” says that he was a freedman of Augustus, and by nation a Spaniard; though some think that he was an Alexandrian, and brought by Caesar to Rome when Alexandria was taken. He was a diligent follower and imitator of Cornelius Alexander, a celebrated Greek grammarian; and was also himself a teacher at Rome. He was made keeper of the Palatine library; was very intimate with the poet Ovid, and with Caius Licmius, a man of consular dignity and an historian, who has taken occasion to inform us, that he died very poor, and, while he lived, was supported chiefly by his generosity; but Vossius thinks that the person here named the consular historian Caius Licinius, should be Caius Asinius, who wrote a history of the civil war, and was consul with Cneius Domitius Calvinus, U. C. 723.

Hyginus wrote many books, which are mentioned by ancient writers. Gellius quotes a work “of the Lives and Actions of illustrious Men.” Servius, in his “Commentary upon the Æneid,” tells us, that he wrote upon “the Origin and Situation of the Italian Cities” which same work is also mentioned by Macrobius. Gellius again mentions his “Commentaries upon Virgil;” as does Macrobius a book “Concerning the Gods.” He wrote also “about Bees and Agriculture;” and lastly, a book of “Genealogies,” of which he himself has made mention in the only undoubted work of his remaining, that is, in his “Poeticon Astronomicon, de mundi & sphaerae ac utriusque partium declaratione, libris quatuor, ad M. Fabium couscrip-f, turn.” The first book treats of the world and of the doctrine of the sphere; the second of the signs in the zodiac; | the third gives a description and history of the constellations; and the fourth treats of several things relating to the planets. Here, while Hyginus describes the constellations in the heavens, and notes the stars which belong to each, he takes occasion to explain the fables of the poets from which the constellations were supposed originally to have taken their rise and name; and hence his work seems to have been called “Poeticun Astronomicon.” It has come down to us, however, very imperfect; and all that part of it, -which, as he tells us, treated of the month, the year, and the reasons of intercalating the months, is entirely lost. To this is joined a book of fables, in which the heathen mythology is reduced into a compendium: but this is imperfect, and suspected to be spurious. There are many editions of these books, but the best is that which Munker published, together with some other pieces of antiquity upon the same or a similar subject, under the title of “Mythographi Latini,” Amst. 16*1, 2 vols. 8vo. The third book of the Astronomies, is illustrated with several copper-plates of the constellations elegantly engraved^ which Grotius had published from the Susian ms. but which, Schetter tells us, he had omitted in his edition of 1674, because he knew those ancient delineations to be very erroneous, and very ill done. 1


Moreri. —Vossius Hist. Lat. —Saxii Onomasticon.